Grizzlies — Finsbury Park 2ndXV

The Grizzlies get knocked out of the Cup by a transformed Finsbury Park

Finsbury Park 2XVs travelled to Woollhams for the first round of the Cup. After drawing 31-31 at theirs earlier on in the season we knew it was going to be a tough match but nothing quite prepared us for how tough it was going to be.

The Grizzlies started well and had a period of 15 minutes dominance’s both in possession and in the scrum. Unfortunately the Finsbury Park defence was just too good and held tight and we couldn’t breach it.

They were a very well drilled side and after weathering our initial storm they then asserted some of their own pressure. They kept the ball alive well and their powerful, dynamic backs offloaded in the tackle and constantly broke our line. The game was being played at a fast pace which tested our defence and fitness. They scored 3 tries on the trot but luckily they weren’t converted. 0-15. Half time.

After a good team talk at half time it lead to a mini come back which saw the Grizzlies dig deep and use our advantage at the scrum well. Our front row of Ally Ruffett, Darren Ead and Simon McGuiness put their opposite numbers under pressure and their scrum kept going backwards.

When the ball was moved out to the backs our strike runners like Mick Foley, Darren Coley, Tawanda Mujere and Nathan Thomas made ground. But Foleys performance at 12 keeping the Finsbury Park behemoth of a 12 quiet was fantastic.

James Sykes at 13 scored our first points of the match. He made one of his signature powerful breaks, ploughing though the Finsbury Park defence and with an outstretched arm managed to place the ball down over the line. Robin Bye had his kicking boots on and converted from out wide. 7-17.

Next to score was Simon Huntley who was having a great game at 5 and then at 7. Again through powerful forward play he took the ball on and headed  towards the line. With Finsbury Park players scrambling to stop him he planted the ball down towards the try line and managed to hit the base of the Pad and the try was given. Robin converted again. 14-15.

Almost as soon as we got back into the match Finsbury Park turned the screw and scored another try to extend their lead 14-20. Carl Lavin was having his usual destructive and powerful display at 8. It was his persistence that gave him our 3rd try as all match he had been taking the fight to Park. He was putting his body on the line not only in defence but in attack too, trying to break their defensive line. He finally did and scored. Robin Bye converted 21-20.

Ringing the changes to refreshen up the team didn’t work as well as expected. The new players weren’t quite up to pace on a very physical match and a couple of missed tackles resulted in Park running in 2 tries in a space of 5 minutes. This time they converted 1. Score 21-32.

By this point legs were heavy and it felt it wasn’t going to be our day. But there was a little ray of hope with Park having one of their forwards being sin binned for continuously being on the wrong side and slowing the ball down at the ruck. This meant we had a numerical advantage for the last 10 minutes. Again we pushed forward and camped in their 22. The forwards rucking their hearts out, keeping the ball alive. The pressure created a small gap in the defence which I took and pushed through for our 4th try. Robin converted making it 4 out of 4. Score 28-32.

Unfortunately that was our last score. Finsbury Park on the other hand had a couple more tries in them, one of which they converted. This was the final nail in the coffin. The game ended 28-44.

I cannot fault the Grizzlies commitment and overall performance as at times we played some of our best rugby this season. It’s bitterly disappointing going out of the cup in the first round, but we came up against a side who were younger, fitter and more organised and we couldn’t deal with this.

“MoM” went to Simon Huntley for his great game in the pack, his work rate and tackling. He was rewarded for all his efforts with a try. “Chris of the Day” went to JP Robinson for his 3 excellent missed tackles which lead to Park scoring tries.

I look forward to welcoming them back on the 10th March for our return league match fixture.

Our next league match is against Tabard 2XVs away on 27.01.18.


Kim Watson
Grizzlies Captain


Woollams Pavilion
Old Albanian Sports Club, 160 Harpenden Rd, St Albans AL3 6BB, UK

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